Alipay partners with Australian Tourism Export Council

The partnership is aimed at expanding Alipay's presence in the Australian tourism industry, given the 1.2 million Chinese tourists that visit Australia annually.

Alipay has formed a partnership with the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) with the goal of expanding its mobile payments platform into the nation's tourism industry.

The partnership will seek to educate and upskill tourism business owners and staff so they are able to "capitalise on Alipay's 520 million active Chinese users", the ATEC said in an announcement on Thursday.

ATEC members will be able attend workshops conducted by Alipay -- which is operated by Alibaba's financial services arm Ant Financial -- in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane to learn more about Chinese consumers.

In the year ending June 30, 2017, nearly 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Australia, more than 20 percent greater than the previous year, and contributed AU$9.8 billion to the economy, according to Tourism Australia. More than 3.3 million Chinese tourists are predicted to be visiting Australia annually by 2026.

In addition, around 165,000 Chinese nationals are studying in Australia, according to Tourism Australia, representing 29 percent of all international students.

"Chinese visitors have become Australia's largest tourist market and their spending potential is expected to be worth up to AU$13 billion by 2020 so our industry is very aware of the opportunities ahead," ATEC managing director Peter Shelley said in a statement.

In Australia, the number of merchants using Alipay has grown from 1,000 to 8,000 in just a few months, according to the ATEC.

Earlier this year, Brad Chan, founder of Australian government-backed non-profit startup incubator Haymarket HQ, also said Australia has a reputation for being "clean and green" in China -- so much so that a box of Sanitarium Weet-Bix can sell for AU$50 in the country.

"[The Chinese] middle class have shown willingness to pay premium for our level of quality," Chan said in February.

"We can't compete on price with China, so our competitive advantage will be the trust in our quality, our brand, and our reputation."

Alipay's partnership with the ATEC does not mark its first foray into the Australian market. The mobile payments provider formed an agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to use the bank's digital payments infrastructure so that Australian consumers can make purchases across Alibaba Group's ecommerce websites including AliExpress, while also allowing the bank to target Chinese tourists and students living in Australia.

Ant Financial has been actively looking for business opportunities outside China, as mobile payment competition with WeChat in the country has been stiff. It has been aggressively expanding Alipay's footprint beyond China, partnering with banks and other organisations around the world such as Uber and Starbucks to tap Chinese consumers during overseas travels.

It recently partnered with the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS), enabling Chinese tourists to use Alipay when travelling across Vietnam via NAPAS member banks and its intermediary payment service networks.

An agreement with payments technology company Stripe, announced in July, also meant that Alipay could accelerate its expansion into the international markets that Stripe operates in.

In April last year, Alibaba paid $1 billion to acquire a controlling share in Southeast Asian ecommerce operator Lazada Group, and in June invested another $1 billion to boost its stake.

The deal provided Alibaba access to six markets in the region, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and put the Alipay brand in front of consumers in four of those markets.

In February, Ant Financial announced an investment of $200 million into mobile payments platform Kakao Pay, owned by the South Korean messenger maker Kakao.

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